This site in German

Helmut Walther (Nuremberg)

Nietzsche as Composer

Lecture at a Seminar of the Gesellschaft für kritische Philosophie held on the weekend of October 15 - 17, 2000, at Kottenheide, Germany,
on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Nietzsche's death

Let Nietzsche, himself, introduce us to the subject--with an excerpt from his Hymnus an die Freundschaft (Hymn to Friendship), a composition for piano for four hands, performed by Aribert Reimann and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau; what you will hear is or are, namely also as further listening samples, original recordings of the 1981 concert that were, upon my request, kindly provided to me by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

This Hymnus is actually Nietzsche's last composition, written during the period of 1972 to 1875, which he later revised several times, as we shall learn, and which probably arose out of his friendship with Franz Overbeck with whom he, as long as they lived together at the "Baumannshöhle" in Basle, used to play piano music for four hands.

Hymnus an die Freundschaft

In 1858, already at the age of fourteen years, Nietzsche wrote:

"Gott hat uns die Musik gegeben, damit wir erstens, durch sie nach oben geleitet werden. Die Musik vereint alle Eigenschaften in sich, sie kann erheben, sie kann tändeln, sie kann uns aufheitern, ja sie vermag mit ihren sanften, wehmütigen Tönen das rohesten Gemüt zu brechen. Aber ihre Hauptbestimmung ist, daß sie unsre Gedanken auf Höheres leitet, daß sie uns erhebt, sogar erschüttert. ... Auch gewährt die Musik eine angenehme Unterhaltung und bewahrt jeden, der sich dafür interessiert, vor Langeweile. Man muß alle Menschen, die sie verachten, als geistlose, den Tieren ähnliche Geschöpfe betrachten. Immer sei diese herrlichste Gabe Gottes meine Begleiterin auf meinem Lebenswege und ich kann mich glücklich preisen, sie liebgewonnen zu haben. Ewig Dank sei Gott von uns gesungen, der diesen schöen Genuß uns darbietet!"

(God gave us music so that we, first and foremost, will be guided upward by it. All qualities are united in music: it can lift us up, it can be capricious, it can cheer us up and delight us, nay, with its soft, melancholy tunes, it can even break the resistance of the toughest character. Its main purpose, however, is to lead our thoughts upward, so that it elevates us, even deeply moves us. ... Music also provides pleasant entertainment and saves everyone who is interested in it from boredom. All humans who despise it should be considered mindless, animal-like creatures. Ever be this most glorious gift of God my companion on my life's journey, and I can consider myself fortunate to have come to love it. Let us sing out in eternal praise to God who is offering us this beautiful enjoyment.)

As one can see, already as a boy, Nietzsche had a close relationship to music, which is natural due to his coming from a family of Lutheran pastors (1), and he was interested in sacred music; he also played the piano very well and wrote musical compositions, next to oratorios mostly lieder, such as to texts by Klaus Groth and the Hungarian poet Sándor Petöfi, but also by Pushkin and Hoffmann von Fallersleben. He learned composition by means of self-study, relying in it on Albrechtsberger, Beethoven's teacher. He liked to dedicate his compositions to relatives on festive occasions, as, for example, the following lied that he dedicated to his aunt Rosalie at Naumburg:

Da geht ein Bach [1862], Text by Klaus Groth

Already from the age of fourteen years on, he wrote--often very precocious--"reminiscences" on his life, thereby rendering an account to himself of it, with "catalogues of works" in which he painstakingly listed his writings and compositions, of which there were already 46 by 1858. In 1862, he even planned an Ermanarich Symphony (taking his cue from Liszts symphonic poem Hungaria), and on the piano he played above all, in addition to other music, Beethoven sonatas. His friend von Gersdorff writes in his Erinnerungen (Memoirs) (2): "Seine Improvisationen (in der Pfortenser Zeit) sind mir unvergeßlich; ich möchte glauben, selbst Beethoven habe nicht ergreifender phantasieren können, als Nietzsche, namentlich, wenn ein Gewitter am Himmel stand." (His improvisations [during his school years at Pforta] are unforgettable to me; I almost think that even Beethoven could not have improvised more movingly than Nietzsche, particularly, when a thunderstorm was looming.) During 1864/65 in Bonn, when he began his philological studies, he obviously had plenty of time at his disposal for theater and concert attendances, as his overview of several performances shows; at the same time, he was also busy at composing--particularly the Pushkin and Petöfi lieder were written at this time. In view of all of these circumstances, he was considered a musical authority by his fellow students, and not only that: In Leipzig, he was even offered the opera review column of a newspaper during his studies there, in 1868. Let us listen to the next lied:

Verwelkt [1864], Text by Sándor Petöfi

Basically--at least by my own listening experience and interpretation of it--the "composer" Nietzsche differs from other "serious" composers particularly through this: the latter work on a musical idea until that idea is translated into an objectified work and thereby "drawn out of itself" and given its own musical life. For Nietzsche, musical creation--as well as his listening to music--was always an existential expression, his music reflects subjective moods; in his view, life without music was a mistake, as he once said.(3) Thus he is basically not driven to composing and composition by an inner idea; rather, in addition to a certain "mood", he also required an outer occasion, as we can see from the various dedications, such as within his family or from that to Cosima Wagner, or from the example of the "Lebensgebet" by Lou Salomé.

One of his biographers, Werner Ross(4), expressed this situation as follows: "Ebenso zweifellos war Nietzsche ein musikalisches Naturtalent. Er mußte in der Musik einen Teil seiner Mission sehen, in der Parteinahme für Dionysos und Schopenhauer zugleich ihr Lob, in seinem Klavierspiel den Beweis für seine Theorie. Eben weil Musik ihm zufloß und in ihm überfloß, war er kaum imstande zu verstehen, was Komponieren als Arbeit heißt ..." (Ross expresses here that undoubtedly, Nietzsche had a natural musical talent and that he had to consider music as part of his mission, in taking sides with Dionysos and in Schopenhauer's praise for it, and his piano playing as proof of his theory, so that, while music flowed to him and flowed over in him, he could hardly understand what composition meant as serious work.)

In considering the just heard works, let us refer to Fritz Schleicher's review of the 1981 concert in the Nürnberger Nachrichten:

"Hier, wo sich der handwerklich wenig geschulte Amateur-Komponist in seiner Sensibilität vom Wort leiten lassen konnte, gelangen ihm phantasievolle, melodisch wie harmonisch einprägsame Schöpfungen. ... [Er] spricht ... eine unmittelbare Tonsprache, erreicht Schönheiten, die an sein Vorbild Schumann erinnern und Kühnheiten, deren diagnostischer Blick Mahler vorausahnen läßt.

Nietzsches Musik offenbart seine schöpferische Sehnsucht, seine künstlerische Aktivität. Der denkwürdige Abend ... zeigte auch den komplizierten, von Skepsis und vernichtenden Urteilen begleiteten Prozeß, in sich den inneren Musiker freizumachen und zum Singen zu bringen.

Der die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geist der Musik ableitete, der in Briefen Worte durch einen Akkord ersetzte, um eine Stimmung genauer mitzuteilen, für den Musik eine Passion war, für Nietzsche sind Töne, Klänge und Rhythmen immer Chiffren des Unsagbaren. Je mehr er an der großen symphonischen Form scheiterte, vertraute er Wesentliches dem Klavier und der Singstimme an." (Schleicher points out that there, where the not professionally-trained amateur composer could rely on being guided in his sensitivity by the word [of poetry], he was able to render imaginative, melodically and harmoniously sensitive creations, and that in them, his musical language is direct and reaches a beauty that reminds of his model, Robert Schumann, and also daring passages that foreshadow Mahler's diagnostic outlook, that in his music, he reveals his creative longing, his artistic activity, and that this unique performance also showed the complicated process in which Nietzsche tried to free the inner musician in himself and let him sing out, which was accompanied by his own skepticism and harsh criticism, and that he who derived the "Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geist der Musik" (the birth of tragedy from the spirit of music), who, in his letters, replaced words with musical chords in order to more precisely convey his mood, for whom music was a passion, for him, Nietzsche, sounds, tones and rhythms were always symbols of the ineffacle and that, the more he failed in symphonic composition, the more he conveyed his musical expression to the piano and to the human voice.)

Nietzsche's most profound encounter, both with respect to his philosophy and with respect to his outlook on music, was certainly his close acquaintance with Wagner, whom he had met in Leipzig when he was still a student and whom he often visited from Basle in his Tribschen "exile". He was most profoundly impressed by the man and musician Wagner--and thus, his relationship with Wagner runs like a read thread through his entire life, his first as well as his last steps are connected with him, from the Geburt der Tragödie to Nietzsche contra Wagner.

Barely having arrived in Basle, where he, at the age of 24, had received a professorship on the recommendation of his Leipzig teacher Ritschl, he wrote to Wagner on the occasion of the latter's 56. birthday, shortly after his first personal visit at Tribschen (on May 15th), namely on May 22, 1869:

"Sehr verehrter Herr, wie lange habe ich schon die Absicht gehabt, einmal ohne alle Scheu auszusprechen, welchen Grad von Dankbarkeit ich Ihnen gegenüber empfinde; da sich tatsächlich die besten und erhobensten Momente meines Lebens an Ihren Namen knüpfen und ich nur noch einen Mann kenne, noch dazu Ihren großen Geistesbruder Arthur Schopenhauer, an den ich mit gleicher Verehrung, ja religione quadam denke. Ich freue mich, Ihnen an einem festlichen Tage dies Bekenntnis ablegen zu können und tue dies nicht ohne ein Gefühl des Stolzes." (5) (Very esteemed Gentleman, for how long have I not already intended to express for once without any shiness what degree of gratitude I feel towards you; since, indeed, the best and most exalted moments of my life are tied to your name and since I only know one other man, and, at that, your great brother in spirit, Arthur Schopenhauer, of whom I think in like reverence, nay religione quadam. I am delighted to confess this to you on such a festive occasion and do not do it without a feeling of pride.)

Soon he had to realize that it was not easy to want to achieve something of his own as an autodidact composer next to this genius, or to, for example, also value other contemporary composers such as Brahms; to this, I do not want to withhold two episodes from you:

Christmas 1871, Nietzsche had sent his new compsotion Nachklang einer Sylvesternacht (Reminiscence of a New Year's Eve) for which he had revised and re-shaped older material into a piano piece for four hands (which he played with his friend Overbeck) to Mme. Cosima Wagner. However, this time, he did not visit in person (perhaps weary of any comparison with Wagner's Tribschener Idyl that was lying under the Christmas tree the year before)(6) To his friend Gustav Krug he described the composition as follows: "Das Ganze ist auf wenig Themen aufgebaut, in der Tonfarbe freilich orchestral, ja förmlich gierig nach Orchestration, aber Du weißt – hier kann ich nicht mehr mit. ... es ist ein so reinliches Manuskript, daß ich mit Overbeck es immer aus der ersten Niederschrift bis jetzt gespielt habe." (The entire piece is built on only a few themse, in its tonal color, however, orchestral, even yearning for orchestration; however, you know--here, I can no longer follow ... it is such a clean manuscript that, with Overbeck, I have played this piece from this original.)To Rohde he writes (7): "Frau Wagner, deren Geburtstag am 25. December ist ... habe ich meine ‚Sylvesternacht‘ gewidmet und bin gespannt, was ich über meine musikalische Arbeit von dort aus zu hören bekomme, da ich noch nie etwas Competentes zu hören bekam." (To Mme Wagner whose birthday is on December 25th, I have dedicated my "Sylvesternacht" and am curious what I will come to hear about my musical work from there, since I have never heard anything competent from there).

Listen to an excerpt from the Sylvesternacht (for Piano and Violin)!

Let Curt Paul Janz describe this event(8), who, in 1978/79 has rendered Nietzsche's standard biography and who, as we shall learn, is also a musicologist: "Die Beschenkte reagierte feinfühlig-rücksichtsvoll am 30. Dezember 1871: »Sylvester-Tag soll für die Sylvester-Nacht-Klänge danken; gemeinsame Eindrücke zur Erinnerung geworden, leuteten durch die Mitternachtsglocken meinem diesjährigen Geburtstag, und ich sage dem freundlichen Melomanen Dank!« Erst 15 Jahre später, im November 1887, gibt sie in einem Brief an Felix Mottl etwas davon frei, was sich in Tribschen abgespielt hatte : »Jakob Stocker, mein damaliger Diener... blieb beim Abdecken des Tisches... stehen, hörte aufmerksam zu, wandte sich endlich ab mit den Worten gt;schint mir nicht gut<. Ich gestehe, daß ich vor Lachen, trotz meiner damaligen großen Freundschaft, gar nicht weiterspielen konnte.« Ausführlicher schildert die Szene Hans Richter, der »mit der Frau Meisterin zusammen die >Silvesterglocken< spielte. Wagner saß unruhig dabei, knetete sein Barett und ging vor Schluß hinaus ... ich fürchtete ein Donnerwetter. Aber Jakobs Kritik (die Richter ebenfalls überliefert) hatte es abgeschwächt; ich fand den Meister bloß in vollem Lachen. >Da verkehrt man nun schon seit anderthalb Jahren mit dem Menschen, ohne dergleichen zu ahnen; und nun kommt er so meuchlings, die Partitur im Gewande.« (Janz describes here that Mme. Wagner reacted very considerately and sensitively on December 30, 1871 with »Sylvester-Tag soll für die Sylvester-Nacht-Klänge danken; gemeinsame Eindrücke zur Erinnerung geworden, leuteten durch die Mitternachtsglocken meinem diesjährigen Geburtstag, und ich sage dem freundlichen Melomanen Dank!« (New Year's Eve's Day ought to thank for the New Year's Eve's tunes; mutual impressions having been committed to memory, they sounded the midnight bells on my birthday, and I send my thanks to the friendly melomaniac!) Only fifteen years later, in November, 1887, so Janz, Cosima let on more about this in a letter to Felix Mottl, as to what actually had happened in Tribschen, »Jakob Stocker, mein damaliger Diener... blieb beim Abdecken des Tisches... stehen, hörte aufmerksam zu, wandte sich endlich ab mit den Worten >schint mir nicht gut<. Ich gestehe, daß ich vor Lachen, trotz meiner damaligen großen Freundschaft, gar nicht weiterspielen konnte.« (Jakob Stocker, then my servant ... while clearing the table ... paused, listened attentively, and then turned away with the words >that doesn't appear to be too good to me<. I admit that I, in spite of my great friendship, could not continue to play, due to my laughter). Hans Richter is mentioned as having reported on this in more detail, »mit der Frau Meisterin zusammen die >Silvesterglocken< spielte. Wagner saß unruhig dabei, knetete sein Barett und ging vor Schluß hinaus ... ich fürchtete ein Donnerwetter. Aber Jakobs Kritik (die Richter ebenfalls überliefert) hatte es abgeschwächt; ich fand den Meister bloß in vollem Lachen. >Da verkehrt man nun schon seit anderthalb Jahren mit dem Menschen, ohne dergleichen zu ahnen; und nun kommt er so meuchlings, die Partitur im Gewande.« (...who played the "Silvesterglocken" with the Frau Meisterin. Wagner sat there restlessly, kneading his baret, and left before it was finished. ... I was afraid of a thunderstorm. However, Jakob's criticism (which Richter also comments on) had softened the verdict; I only found the master laughing out loudly, >here we are, having been in contact with this man for one and a half years without having any clue of this, and now he approaches us stealthily, with his score under his cloak.<"

Much more profound was--at least on Nietzsche's part--his encounter with Wagner regarding the "Triumphlied" by Brahms:

On June 14th, 1874, Nietzsche reports to Rohde about a concert of the Basle Gesangsverein (Song Society) of June 9th at the Cathedral of Basle, at which Brahms' Triumphlied (Song of Triumph--composed on the occasion of the German victory in 1871) was performed(9). "In der letzten Zeit war Dein Landsmann Brahms hier, und ich habe viel von ihm gehört, vor allem sein Triumphlied, das er selbst dirigierte. Es war mir eine der schwersten ästhetischen Gewissens-Proben, mich mit Brahms auseinanderzusetzen; ich habe jetzt ein Meinungchen über diesen Mann. Doch noch sehr schüchtern" ("lately, your fellow countryman Brahms was here, and I heard much of him, above all, his Triumphlied which he conducted, himself. It was one of the most difficult aethetical questions of conscience to me to deal with Brahms; now, I have a tiny opinion with respect to this man. However, it is still very shy.) However, the Triumphlied by Brahms must have made a strong impression on him, since already on July 12, he went to Zurich with Romundt in order to attend a new performance of it there--and he also obtained a piano extraction of it.

Listen to an excerpt from the Triumphlied.

Nietzsche was, of course, aware of the fact that Wagner rejected Brahms from the bottom of his hear andt--as with respect to the works of most of the other contemporary composers--did not want to hear any of his compositions. In spite of this, to his visit from August 4 to 15, 1974 in Bayreuth, he brought along the notes of the Triumphlied. Let Janz report to us on this, as well (10):

With respect to the events of these eleven days, reports in various memoirs have been preserved that can be quoted as authentic representations of these events. Without discussing them in detail, we can, essentially, derive from them that Nietzsche adamantly tried to acquaint Wagner with Brahms by means of the piano extraction and that Wagner had reacted with anger and rage to this attempt. Only Cosima's diplomacy, kindness and love was able to avoid an even bigger scene and an open break between them. Disappointments remained on both sides and had their roots, at least for Wagner, not only in the Brahms incident.

Nietzsche [who had arrived in ill health] had recuperated fast, and already with respect to the evening of August 5, Cosima was able to note, "Wir verleben einen heiteren Abend zusammen." (We spent an enjoyable evening together). On the following day, Nietzsche discussed his troubles with his publisher, the attacks by the press on him on account of his Strauß, and they also discussed the German university and literature situation, as for example "daß Herr Du-Bois-Reymond in Berlin den Vorschlag zu einer Akademie gemacht habe, worin Goethe als die deutsche Sprache verderbend, Lessing gegenüber, geschildert wird." (that Mr. Du-Bois-Reymond in Berlin had suggested the creation of an academy in which Goethe will be, in comparison to Lessing, described as having spoiled the German language). They also agreed in their reservations with respect to Bismarck's Prussian-led Germany. In the evening, Wagner played the Rheintöchter - scene from the finale of Götterdämmerung, and into the midst of this Nietzsche barged with Brahms' Trimphlied! He could not have done this more awkwardly. "Richard lacht laut auf, daß Musik auf das Wort ‚Gerechtigkeit‘ gemacht würde." (Richard laughed out loud with respect to the idea that the word 'Gerechtigkeit' (justice) was set to music). They kept silent about this for a day. On Saturday, August 8, the discussion flared up again. "Nachmittags spielen wir" (in the afternoon, we played) 'we'--certainly Cosima, but who else? Wagner, Nietzsche or Paul Klindworth, who worked on the piano extraction of the Götterdämmerung?) "das Triumphlied von Brahms, großer Schrecken über die Dürftigkeit dieser uns selbst von Freund Nietzsche gerühmten Komposition, Händel, Mendelssohn und Schumann in Leder gewickelt; Richard wird sehr böse und spricht von seiner Sehnsucht, etwas zu finden in der Musik, auch von der Überlegenheit des Christus (von Liszt), wo doch ein Gestaltungstrieb, eine Empfindung, welche zur Empfindung spreche, vorhanden sei." (the Triumphlied by Brahms, great dismay with respect to the artistic poverty of this work that had been recommended to us by friend Nietzsche, himself, Handel, Mendelssohn and Schumann, wrapped in leather. Richard became very angry and spoke of his longing to find something in this music, but also of the superiority of 'Christus' (by Liszt) in which can be found a creative will expressed, an emotion that addresses emotion.) In the evening, Wagner has pieces from operas by Auber played and as last piece his 'Kaisermarsch' (Emperor's March). With this, the discussion of Brahms' composition came to an end.

Nietzsche stayed in Bayreuth for one more week and left on August 15th, "nachdem er Richard manche schwere Stunde verursacht. Unter anderem behauptete er, keine Freude an der deutschen Sprache zu finden, lieber lateinisch zu sprechen usw." (after he had caused Richard many more difficult hours. Amongst other things he maintained that he did not enjoy the German language and preferred to speak Latin, etc.) Therefore, it was not only Brahms' Triumphlied but the insight into his own fateful, tormented state of mind that he subjected the Bayreuthers to that led to their serious concerns -- concerns, but not a "breakup", since, only a few days later, they read with great sympathy Overbeck's report on Nietzsche's loneliness in the circle of his academic colleagues at Basle. "Der ganze Bann der Universität liegt auf ihm." (The entire university has shunned him.) In her diary, Cosima did not mention anything of the fact that Nietzsche had played his compositions during his stay at Bayreuth. Only 15 years later she wrote to Felix Mottl: "Ein Hymnus an die Freundschaft (see "Nietzsche and Music" Page) hat eigentlich den Bruch begonnen. It kam nach Bayreuth und war sehr traurig..." (A Hymn to Friendship had actually begun the breakup. He came to Bayreuth and was very sad...) However, when did this hymn come to Bayreuth? In 1874, it was not completely written out, yet. It might be possible that the final form that the composition received during the following fall was based on Wagner's criticism and advice. As late as in the fall of 1876 they met in Sorrent in all former cordiality, at least on Wagner's part. There is no inkling, yet, of a "breakup", only of concern, as in August 1874. The "breakup" began with Nietzsche's rejection of Schopenhauer's philosophy and with his Menschliches - Allzumenschliches, before that, there lay, at the most, a certain kind of estrangement of "bewilderment".

Contrary to this, for Nietzsche, his disappointment began with the Brahms event. All of a sudden, his revered "master" was devoid of all of his majesty and "greatness" and revealed himself as a petty, jealous despot who was not strong enough to honor the capabilities of another composer without being afraid of losing his position. Whatever may have happened then, during the summer of 1874, Nietzsche experienced that, of which he later (in Zarathustra "Von der Schenkenden Tugend") warned his followers: "Ihr verehrt mich; aber wie, wenn eure Verehrung eines Tages umfällt? Hütet euch, daß euch nicht eine Bildsäule erschlage." (You revere me, what will happen, however, when some day, your reverence crumbles? Beware that you will not be hit by a statue.)

("Janz reports that, with respect to the events of these eleven days, there exist various reminiscences that are quoted as authentic descriptions thereof. Without going into detail with respect to them, we can derive from them, as a basic idea, that Nietzsche constantly tried to lead Wagner towards Brahms by means of the piano extraction and that Wagner reacted to this with anger and rage, and that it was only due to the diplomacy, kindness and love of Cosima that it was possible to avoid an open rift in their friendship due to this argument, that disappointments existed on both sides and, at least for Wagner, had their roots not only in the Brahms incident.

Janz continues that Nietzsche [who had arrived ill] had quickly recovered, and already for the evening of August 5th, Cosima was able to note, "Wir verleben einen heiteren Abend zusammen" ("we spent a delightful evening together"), and that, the following day, the discussion, at first, centers around Nietzsche's troubles with his publisher, the attacks of the press on him in the wake of Strauß, then around the conditions of the universities and of literature in Germany, so "daß Herr Du-Bois-Reymond in Berlin den Vorschlag zu einer Akademie gemacht habe, worin Goethe als die deutsche Sprache verderbend, Lessing gegenüber, geschildert wird" ("that Mr. Du-Bois-Reymond in Berlin has made the suggestion of an academy in which Goethe is described as spoiling the German language, as opposed to Lessing"), that one also shared dertain doubts with respect to the Prussian-led Germany of Bismarck and that, in the evening, Wagner then played the Rheintöchter scene from the finale of the Götterdämmerung and into this (mood) bursts Nietzsche with the Triumphlied by Brahms! Janz opines that he could not have approached this any more clumsily. "Richard lacht laut auf, daß Musik auf das Wort 'Gerechtigkeit' gemacht würde" ("Richard bursts out into loud laughter over the fact that the word 'Gerechtigkeit' [justice] was set to music"). Then one is silent for a day with respect to the matter. On Saturday, Augst 8th, the matter comes to a decision. "Nachmittags spielen wir" ("in the afternoon, we are playing") ("we": certainly Cosima, but who else? Wagner, Nietzsche or Paul Klindworth who is working on the piano reduction of the Götterdämmerung?) "das Triumphlied von Brahms, großer Schrecken über die Dürftigkeit dieser uns selbst von Freund Nietzsche gerühmten Komposition, Händel, Mendelssohn und Schumann in Lieder gewickelt; Richard wird sehr böse und spricht von seiner Sehnsucht, etwas zu finden in der Musik, auch von der Überlegenheit des Christus (von Liszt), wo doch ein Gestaltungstrieb, eine Emfpindung, welche zur Empfindung spreche, vorhanden sei" ("the Triumphlied by Brahms, great dismay with respect to the paltriness of this composition that had been recommended to us by friend Nietzsche. Händel, Mendelsslohn and Schumann, wrapped in songs; Richard gets very angry and talks of his longing to find something in this music, also of the superiority of the "Christus" (by Liszt) in which can be found a creative will, an emotion that speakts to the emotions"). At night, Wagner has something played of the operas of Auber and finally a "Kaisermarsch" (Emperor's march). With this, the discussion of Brahms seems to have come to an end.

Nietzsche still stays for another week in Bayreuth and leaves on the 15th, "nachdem er Richard manche schwere Stunde verursacht. Unter anderem behauptete wer, keine Freude an der deutschen Sprache zu finden, lieber lateinisch zu sprechen, usw." ("after he had caused Richard many difficult hours. Amongst other things, he maintained that he did not enjoy the German language, that he preferred to speak Latin, etc."). Thus it is not only the Triumphlied but Nietzsche's terrible inner strife that he shows to the Bayreuthers, which caused them some concern--concern, not a 'rift', since Wagner and Cosima receive with great concern Overbeck's report of the increasing isolation of their friend in the circle of his professional colleagues. "Der ganze Bann der Universität liegt auf ihm" ("he is burdened by the ban laid on him by the entire university"). Of the fact that Nietzsche had played his compositions during his visit, Cosima mentions nothing in her diary. Only 15 years later, she writes to Felix Mottl: "Ein Hymnus an die Freundschaft hat eigentlich den Bruch begonnen. Der kam nach Bayreuth und war sehr traurig." ("A Hymnus an die Freundschaft [hymn to friendship] (see the "music" page!) has actually begun our rift. He came to Bayreuth and was very sad..."). However, when did this hymn "come" to Bayreuth? In 1874, it had not been conceptualized, yet. It would be conceivable that the final form that the composition received during the following fall, was based on criticism by Wagner due to the state the first sketch might have been in. As late as in the fall of 1876, they meet in Sorrent and, as far as Wagner is concerned, in the old cordial spirit. At that time, nothing can be noted with respect to a "rift", at the most, of concern, as already now, in August, 1874. ... The "rift" begins with Nietzsche's repudiation of Schopenhauer's philosophy and with his "Menschliches--Allzumenschliches" (Human--All too human); before, there was, at the most, come 'estrangement' or 'alienation'.)

(Janz further contends that, contrary to this, Nietzsche's disappointment mainly began with the Brahms incident. All of a sudden, the noble "master" showed himself without any of his nobility and "greatness", he was de-masked as a small, jealous despot, not strong enough to admit the talent and the abilities of another artist without fearing for his own position.)(11)

From 1874 on, the latest, Nietzsche's position towards Wagner's music had become a critical one, as is also shown in the Vierte Unzeitgemäße Betrachtung, Richard Wagner in Bayreuth, that was written at that time. However, what were Nietzsche's concrete and objective objections of "Wagnerianism"? This is best shown by his letters (12)(13) to Carl Fuchs:

"Das Wagnersche Wort ‚unendliche Melodie‘ drückt die Gefahr, den Verderb des Instinkts und den guten Glauben, das gute Gewissen dabei allerliebst aus. Die rhythmische Zweideutigkeit, so daß man nicht mehr weiß und wissen soll, ob etwas Schwanz oder Kopf ist, ist ohne allen Zweifel ein Kunstmittel, mit dem wunderbare Wirkungen erreicht werden können: der ‚Tristan‘ ist reich daran –, als Symptom einer ganzen Kunst ist und bleibt sie trotzdem das Zeichen der Auflösung. Der Teil wird Herr über das Ganze, die Phrase über die Melodie, der Augenblick über die Zeit (auch das tempo), das Pathos über das Ethos ... schließlich auch der esprit über den ‚Sinn‘." (The Wagnerian word 'endless melody' expresses the danger, the decline of instinct, and his good faith and consciousness with it, most delicately. The rhythmic ambiguity by means of which one does not and should not know anymore what is head or tail is doubtlessly an artistic ploy with which wonderful effects can be reached: 'Tristan' is full of it--as a symptom of an entire art, it is and remains, nevertheless, the symbol of dissolution. The part governs the whole, the phrase the meldoy, the moment all time (and also the tempo), and pathos governs ethos ... ultimately, also the esprit governs over 'meaning'.)

"Dieses Beseelen, Beleben der kleinsten Redeteile der Musik (– ich möchte, Sie ... wendeten die Worte an, die jeder aus der Rhetorik kennt: Periode (Satz), Kolon, Komma, je nach der Größe, insgleichen Fragesatz, Konditionalsatz, Imperativ – denn die Phrasierungslehre ist schlechterdings das, was für Prosa und Poesie die Interpunktionslehre ist), – also: wir betrachteten diese Beseelung und Belebung der kleinsten Teile, wie sie in der Musik zur Praxis Wagners gehört und von da aus zu einem fast herrschenden Vortrags-System (selbst für Schauspieler und Sänger) geworden, mit verwandten Erscheinungen in anderen Künsten: es ist ein typisches Verfalls-Symptom, ein Beweis dafür, daß sich das Leben aus dem Ganzen zurückgezogen hat und im Kleinsten luxuriert. Die ‚Phrasierung‘ wäre demnach die Symptomatik eines Niedergangs der organisierenden Kraft: anders ausgedrückt: der Unfähigkeit, große Verhältnisse noch rhythmisch zu überspannen – eine Entartungsform des Rhythmischen ... [...] In dem Maße, in dem sich das Auge für die rhythmische Einzelform (‚Phrase‘) einstellt, wird es myops für die weiten, langen, großen Formen: genau wie in der Architektur des Berninismus. Eine Veränderung der Optik des Musikers – die ist überall am Werke: nicht nur in der rhythmischen Überlebendigkeit des Kleinsten, unsere Genußfähigkeit begrenzt sich immer mehr auf die delikaten kleinen sublimen Dinge ... folglich macht man nur auch noch solche – –" (This animation of the minutest particles of music (--...they apply the words that everyone knows from rhetoric: period (sentence), colon, comma, according to their size, also interrogative sentence, conditional sentence, imperative--since phrasing is ultimately that what for prose and poetry is punctuation) - therefore: we observe this animation and enlivening of the minutest parts as, in Wagner's music, it has become practice and, going out from there, has become to a ruling system of declamation (even for singers and actors), with similarities to it in other art forms: it is a typical symptom of decline, evidence for the fact that life has withdrawn from the bigger picture and is enjoying itself in the luxury of detail. This 'phrasing' could, therefore, be considered a symptom of the decline of organizing force: to express it differently: of the inability to rhythmically span across the whole--a form of decline of the rhythmic...[....] To the degree in which the eye becomes accustomed to the smaller rhythmic form (phrase), it becomes myops with respect to long, larger forms: as in the architecture of Berninism. A change of the optical perception of the musician--it is at work everywhere, not only in the rhythmic over-agility of the minutest part, also our ability to enjoy is limiting itself more and more to the delicate small, sublime things...consequently, one only creates such--.)

Peculiarly enough, Nietzsche does not relate this observation to himself, as well--he, too, in his prose, is a master of "phrasing", of the smallest sentence particles and of their expression, particularly by means of intricate punctuation--not without reason, he lauds aphorism as his very own form! This criticism of Wagner does, in the end, also apply to himself.

That his criticism does not change his basic gratitude towards Wagner nor his fascination with Wagner's music is shown in his aphorism Sternenfreundschaft in the Fröhlichen Wissenschaft(14) as well as in his wonderful explanation of the Meistersinger Ouverture in Jenseits von Gut und Böse(15) as late as in 1884/5, in which he recognizes "ein rechtes echtes Wahrzeichen der deutschen Seele"(a true symbol of the German soul): to him, Germans are "von vorgestern und von übermorgem – sie haben noch kein Heute" (of yesterday and of the day after tomorrow - they do not have a today, yet).

As we have seen from the example of the Brahms incident, Nietzsche was interested in contemporary music; thus, particularly his piano music--as opposed to his lieder compositions that oriented themselves on Schumann--influenced very early by the chromatic innovations of Liszt, Wagner's father-in-law. Let us listen to an excerpt of the Manfred Meditation (Reimann/Fischer-Dieskau at the piano):

Manfred-Meditation (excerpt) [final version of 1877]

Naturally, Hans von Bülow did not remain unknown to Nietzsche, owing to his frequenting Wagner's house--and thus he sent him his "Geburt der Tragödie" (in 1872). After a visit to Basel--Wagner was already preparing for his departure to Bayreuth-- they saw each other again in Munich, where Hans von Bülow, on the orders of King Ludwig II and against Wagner's wishes, conducted Tristan und Isolde.

Thanking him for "den erhabensten Kunsteindruck meines Lebens" (the most sublime impression of art in my life), Nietzsche took this opportunity to present to Hans von Bülow his Manfred Meditation for an evaluation. In a written address that was full of self-irony, he called his music "zweifelhaft" (doubtful), even "entsetzlich" (awful). However, this self-qualification did not prevent von Bülow from rendering an honest opinion. According to von Bülow, he was faced with "das Extremste von phantastischer Extravaganz" (the most extreme in phantastic extravagance), the "Unerquicklichste und Antimusikalischste" (the most unsatisfying and most anti-musical) in a long time. If the entire thing was a joke, he asked, a musical parody of the "music of the future"? Did he, Nietzsche, want to deliberately mock all rules of tonal harmony, of the higher syntax as well as of ordinary orthography? His musical fever product was, in musical terms, the equivalent to a crime in the moral world, with which the musical muse, Euterpe, was raped. If he would allow him to give him some good advice, just in case that he was actually serious with his "Abberation ins Componiergebiet" (abberation into the area of composition), then he should (stick to) composing vocal music, since, in it, the word can lead the way "auf dem wilden Tonmeere" (on the wild sea of tones). In this manner, his music was even more "entsetzlich" (awful) as he, himself, might mean it: namely, harmful to himself in the highest degree. Nevertheless, in this "musical fever product", with all its abberations, one could detect a distinguished mind, and, in a certain sense he, with his staging of the "Tristan", was indirectly guilty of "einen so hohen und erleuchteten Geist wie den Ihrigen, verehrter Herr Professor, in so bedauerliche Klavierkrämpfe gestürzt zu haben" (having thrown such an enlightened mind as yours, esteemed Herr Professor, into such regrettable piano cramps).

In any event, Nietzsche was open enough to communicate the content of this letter to his friends. His first reaction to von Bülow's criticism is expressed in a letter to his friend Gustav Krug who also composed and with whom he exchanged ideas on the music of the latter and on his own music at that time and to whom he wrote from Basle on July 24, 1872:(16):

"... ich wenigstens habe wieder einmal für sechs Jahr das Musikmachen verschworen. ‚Der Ozean warf mich wieder einmal ans Land‘, im vorigen Winter, nämlich auf die Sandbank der Dir bekannten Kompositionen. Damit soll’s aber genug sein. Ich gerate, wie diese Kompositionen beweisen, in wahrhaft skandalöser Weise ins Phantastisch-Häßliche, ins Ungeziemend-Ausschweifende. Und ich erwartete von Deiner Seite, einigen Schimpf und Schmach davonzutragen. Solltest Du aber für Manfred eine wirkliche Art von Neigung haben, wie Dein Brief gütig genug war zu versichern, so warne ich Dich ganz ernsthaft, lieber Freund, vor dieser meiner schlechten Musik. Laß keinen falschen Tropfen in Deine Musikempfindung kommen, am wenigsten aus der barbarisierenden Sphäre meiner Musik. Ich bin ohne Illusionen – jetzt wenigstens.

Verlange nur von mir nichts Kritisches – ich habe keinen guten Geschmack und bin, in meinen musikal. Kenntnissen, recht heruntergekommen, kann auch, wie Du gesehn hast, gar nicht mehr orthographisch schreiben.– Ich bin jetzt nur soviel Musiker, als zu meinem philosophischen Hausgebrauche eben nötig ist." (I for my part have, as far as music is concerned, sworn off musik-making for six years. I washed up on shore last winter, namely at the sand banks of the compositions that are known to you. With this, let it be enough. As my compositions show, I am really tending towards that fantastic-ugly, towards the unseemly meandering. And I expect from you to receive your scorn and wrath. Should you, however, feel any inclination towards 'Manfred', as you were so kind to express in your last letter, I warn you very seriously, dear friend, with respect to my bad music. Do not allow yourself to have one false drop of this stream into your musical taste, and not the least from the barbarizing sphere of my music. I am without illusions--at least for now. Do not ask anything critical from me--I do not have good taste and have, with respect to my musical skills and knowledge, deteriorated very much and can also, as you have seen, no longer spell properly. -- Now, I am only as much of a musician as is required for my philosophical work.),

and to Erwin Rohde, he wrote "Der Brief Bülows ist für mich unschätzbar in seiner Ehrlichkeit, lies ihn, lache mich aus, glaube mir, daß ich vor mir selbst in einen solchen Schrecken geraten bin, um seitdem kein Klavier anrühren zu können" (Bülow's letter is invaluable to me in its honesty, read it, laugh about me and believe me that I have become so scared of myself that I cannot touch a piano ever since)(17).

Howerver, he could not stay away from it entirely, and in 1874, he also sent his Manfred Meditation to Kapellmeister Friedrich Hegar (see Wagner Page/"Triumphlied"). The latter wrote in his reply, "... ich hoffte immer, dieselbe persönlich zurückbringen und Ihnen bei dieser Gelegenheit sagen zu können, wie sehr mich vieles interessierte, namentlich die Art und Weise, wie Sie der zu Grunde liegenden Stimmung musikalisch Ausdruck zu geben versuchen. Freilich fehlt dem ganzen, was die Gestaltung der musikalischen Ideen anbetrifft, die Erfüllung gewisser architektonischer Bedingungen so, daß mir die Komposition mehr den Eindruck einer stimmungsvollen Improvisation als eines durchdachten Kunstwerks macht." (...I had always hoped to be able to personally return it and to tell you on that occasion how much of it found my interest, particularly the manner in which you try to musically express the basic mood. Of course, the whole is, as far as the execution of musical ideas is concerned, lacking some architectural prerequisites so that the composition makes more of an impression of an improvisation describing a certain mood to me than that of a thought-through composition).(18)

That NIetzsche's musicality can also be seen from another perspective, is espressed in Fischer'Dieskau's following remarks:

"Nietzsches musikalische Begabung war jedoch ungeachtet solcher Meinung außerordentlich. Sie gehörte bestimmend zu seinem Wesen. So muß seine kunstpsychologische Analyse analog zu seinem Musiksinnen und zu seiner Freude an der Polyphonie gesehen werden. Sein Drang, in die Abgründe der Psyche zu leuchten, entspricht dem Willen eines Musikers, Seelenvorgänge ans Licht zu bringen, die einzig durch die Musik darstellbar erscheinen." (Fischer-Dieskau expresses here that Nietzsche's musical talent was, regardless of such opinions, extraordinary and that it was a distinctive part of his character, and that his psychological analysis of art must be seen analogous to his musical insights and to his enjoyment of polyphony, and that his drive to shed light into the deepest recesses of the human psyche is the equivalent to the will of a musician to bring psychological processes to light in a way that only music can.)

Particularly with respect to the "Manfred" composition and von Bülow's harsh reaction one could infer that the problem on hand was the "normal" problem that a certain new way of musical expression had not been able yet, to gain ground in the face of traditional forms of musical expression; however, one should clearly understand here that both Wagner and Nietzsche were certainly aware of this problem--this is, after all, the material of which "Meistersinger"'s are made: The revolutionary Stolzing-Wagner against Beckmesser-conservatives and classicists. Nietzsche himself would never have thought of using this reason with respect to his own way of composing; to the contrary, he was aware of Wagner's genius and of his own modest capabilities with respect to harmony and counterpoint, and particularly with respect to his inability to span vast musical constructs with his improvisational technique that was carried by his spontaneous emotions. What is also not helpful here are cross-references to Liszt and his revolutionizing of chromatic elements of music--from whom Wagner had eagerly "borrowed"--or to, in anticipation, look at Mahler, all of whom did not make the compositional mistakes Nietzsche did and who, contrary to Nietzsche, mastered the great form. Moreover, I am of the opinion that even lay listeners who are fairly familiar with 18th and 19th century music, some of the mistakes that von Bülow pointed out, can be heard when listening to Nietzsche's music.

The musicologist Janz who, in additon to his Nietzsch biography, also collected his musical work and published it in 1975, writes of Nietzsche's compositions(19):

"Es wäre natürlich verfehlt, eine »Ehrenrettung« Nietzsches als Komponist anzustreben, dennoch darf festgehalten werden, daß es trotz gewisser, manchmal recht störender kompositionstechnischer Mängel ernstgemeinte und ernstzunehmende Werke sind, die weitab von einer bloßen spielerischen Liebhaberei liegen. Nietzsche bedient sich der Musik genau wie der Sprache: zur Bewältigung und Übermittlung geistiger und seelischer Gehalte, sie ist ihm Mittel der Kommunikation, und dabei gelingen ihm einige sogar sehr ansprechende Stücke. Die kompositionstechnischen Mängel sind die bedauerlichen Reste eines nicht systematisch durchgeführten autodidaktischen Studiums. Daß man es auch in der Musik bei zähem Fleiß mit autodidaktischem Lehrgang zu etwas bringen kann, haben seine ungefähr zeitgenössischen russischen, im sogenannten »Petersburger mächtigen Häuflein« zusammengeschlossenen Komponisten ... bewiesen. Und Nietzsche bewies es für das Gebiet der Philosophie, in der er ebenfalls Autodidakt war. Daß er dabei als Philosoph die ungleich größere Potenz darstellt denn als Musiker, bleibt natürlich außer Frage. Er hat aber auch in der Musik an Tiefe und Prägnanz des Ausdrucks dennoch manchen seiner »zünftigen« musikalischen Zeitgenossen mindestens erreicht, wobei es ein schwacher Trost bleibt, daß auch diese als zu wenig bedeutend neben einem Brahms und Schumann unserem Bewußtsein entschwunden sind.

Jenseits ihrer Mängel sind die Kompositionen und Kompositionsversuche Nietzsches aber von besonderem und hohem Wert für die Erhellung seines Grundwesens, das sich wirklich wie er es im Brief sagt – offenbart, und zwar in seinen einzelnen Facetten. ...

Schon C. A. Bernoulli hat nachdrücklich auf den lyrischen Grundzug im philosophischen Werk Nietzsches hingewiesen, noch ohne den kräftigsten Beweis, die lyrischen Kompositionen, zur Hand zu haben. Nach längerer Pause greift Nietzsche wieder die Großform der mehrteiligen Fantasie auf unter dem Obergedanken »Freundschaft«. Die Musik gerät ihm hier ebenso ins Pathetische wie seine Freundesbriefe, die Fantasien werden formlos, ja unförmig. Nietzsche scheitert in den »Freundschafts«-Kompositionen (Monodie, Manfred, Nachklang, Hymnus) genau so wie in den Freundschaften selber. ... In so verschiedene Phasen die Kompositionstätigkeit aufteilbar scheint, ein Grundzug hält alles, von den ersten Versuchen bis zum »Hymnus« zusammen: beinahe alle Kompositionen hat Nietzsche zu Geschenkzwecken oder Widmungen benutzt, die meisten sind sogar nur darum entstanden. Es sind ganz persönlich gerichtete Kundgebungen seiner Neigung und stehen darum in ihrem Wesen dem Brief näher als dem philosophischen Werk; sie haben einen durch die Art der Musik gegebenen gehobenen Aussagewert in einer durchaus persönlichen Weise. Obwohl sich Stileinflüsse verschiedener Komponisten aufzeigen lassen, wie Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, so eignet ihnen doch ein spezifischer Nietzschescher Zug der Melancholie. Auffallend ist das völlige Fehlen Wagnerscher Einwirkung. Die Dämonie und Gefühlsmächtigkeit Wagners blieb dem Musiker Nietzsche fremd, als Musiker war er nie »Wagnerianer«."

(Janz contends that it might be a misguided idea to aim at saving Nietzsche's "honor" as a composer; however, he admits that, in spite of all compositional imperfections, these works should be considered as serious and seriously-meant works that are far-removed from a merely playful dilletantism. Nietzsche uses music as he uses language, for the coming-to-terms with and for the conveying of mental and spiritual content. According to Janz, for Nietzsche, music is a means of communication, and he admits that there are even a few quite pleasing pieces. He describes the compositional deficiencies as the result of a non-systematic process of self-study and mentions that some of Nietzsche's approximate contemporaries such as the Petersburg composers Cui, Glinka, Balakireff, Mussorgskij, Borodin and Rimskij-Korsakoff, have come a long way in their musical self-studies. He contents that Nietzsche proved the same as philosopher since he was also self-taught in that subject and that his potential as philosopher is immensely greater than that as a musician, which is undeniable. However, so Janz, Nietzsche was at least, at times, able to reach his "professional" musical counterparts in the depth and strength of his musical expression, for this there is no consolation since this, due to its minor importqance, has escaped our awareness in the face of such great counterparts as Brahms and Schumann.

Janz continues by stating that Nietzsche's compsotiions and compositional attempts, beyond their deficiencies, are of particular importance in the study of his essence that revealed--as he says, in his letters--and that in its different facets.

Janz elaborates on how Nietzsche, already at the age of 10 - 14, tried to get a handle on such tasks as musical notation, technique of musical semantics and harmonics, how he received piano lessons and also became acquainted with piano reductions of symphonic works, which found its reflection of his conceptualizing everything in his compositional attempts from the piano; that, as a 12 to 14-year-old, he heard Oratorios in the Naumburg cathedral, that, however, for him, the religious became an aesthetic enjoyment which facilitated his religious enthusiasm rather than evoking his faith, which was followed by his attempts at composing a mass, motets, a "Miserere" and also a Christmas Oratorio, in all of which he, however, failed. Janz raises the question as to whether this failure was due to his lack of compositional skills or due to the nature of the subject.

Janz further reports that Nietzsche, in the summer of 1861, when he was not quite 17 years old, converted his Christmas Oratorio into a "profane" piano fantasy ("Schmerz ist der Grundton der Natur" [Pain is the basic mood of nature]) and then turned to descriptive music in his "Ermanarich" Symphony, whereby he soon recognized his limits of expression in descriptive music due to music's superiority over the other art forms in its leading away from concrete cases without becoming abstract in the process. For the "Ermanarich", so Janz, Nietzsche still wrote a detailed program of the scenery and plot, and that (his) programs to later compositions only contained hints at the general mood or emotional state(s). His attempt at descriptive music had to fail, contends Janz, due to its character and that it spoiled the genuine musical form, but that he still produced a harmoniously daring piece. This was followed by a period of smaller musical forms such as the "Albumblätter" of the time (as, for example, Mendelssohn's "Lieder ohne Worte") and "lieder", thus the lyrical, and that here, Nietzsche gave his best as a composer.

Janz continues by pointing out that already C.A. Bernoully had explicitly mentioned the basically lyrical tenor of Nietzsche's philosophical work, without being able to look at the strongest proof of this, namely at Nietzsche's lyrical compositions. After some time, so Janz, Nietzsche returned to the greater musical forms with his fantasy on "friendship", in which the music turns as much into pathos as his letters to his friends and that his fantasies are lacking in form, that they are form-less. Janz even goes as far as contending that Neitzsche failed in his "friendship" compositions (Monodie, Manfred, Nachklang, Hymn) as much as he failed in friendship, and raises the question as to whether Nietzsche tried, as in sacred music, to overcome his inability for real friendship via the detour of aesthetics. Even if, according to Janz, the compositional phases of Nietzsche are as varied as they are, they still contain one basic common denominator: Nietzsche had written all of these for the purpose of giving them away as presents or for dedicating them to someone and that they, as quite personal means of expression, are closer related to hsi letters than to his philosophical work and that they, due to music's heightened capacity of expression, have quite some personal significance. Even though there can be observed stylistic influences such as of Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, they all share a specific Nietzschean trait of melancholy and do not show any Wagnerian influence (with the execption of the "Nachklang einer Sylvesternacht"). The demonic emotional power of Wagner remained alien to Nietzsche the musician; as a musician, he was never a "Wagnerian".)

Let us come back to the Hymnus auf die Freundschaft that we heard in the beginning and that is mentioned for the first time in Nietzsche's letter to Rohde (20) of May 5, 1873:

"Nun, so wollen wir denn unser Dasein weiterschleppen und den Vers meines Freundschaftshymnus singen, welcher anfängt "Freunde, Freunde! haltet fest zusammen!" Weiter habe ich das Gedicht doch noch nicht: doch der Hymnus selbst ist fertig. ... Ich dachte, es würden während des Briefschreibens einige Herren Studenten kommen, um zu meinem Collegio sich anzumelden. Denn es war meine Stunde; aber es ist keiner gekommen. Wehe! Wehe!" (Well, let us carry on with our existence and sing the verse from my hymn to friendship that begins with, "Freunde, Freude! hattet fest zusammen!--Friends, friends, stand by each other steadfastly!) The poem has not grown further, yet, but the hymn, itself, it completed...I thought that, while I was writing this letter, some students would come to enroll in my course, since this was the time for it, yet, woe, woe!)

This was the time of Wilamowitz' attack on his Geburt der Tragödie, which led to the situation that, at first, Nietzsche's lectures in Basle were avoided--and thus it does not come as a surprise that Nietzsche holds on to the ideal of friendship steadfastly, himself.

Ross(21) explains the further fate of the Hymnus: "Es ist Nietzsches letzte Komposition, als Geschenk für die Freunde und als ‚Bundeshymne‘ gedacht. Acht Jahre später, 1882, muß sie noch einmal herhalten: Lou Salomés Gedicht ‚Gebet an das Leben‘ – wiederum ein Hymnus, aber kein Bund mehr wird ihn gemeinsam singen oder spielen – wird mit Hilfe der Motive des Freundschaftsliedes vertont." (He refers to it as Nietzsche's last composition, as a present to his friends and as a common hymn and mentions that eight years later, in 1882, it had to serve once again, in Lou Salome's poem 'Gebet an das Leben'--again as a hymn, but that it was not sung or played in any human union.)

Nietzsche had fallen in love--and as we know ever since Goethe, this is often conducive to creativty,and thus Nietzsche was enthusiastic about addin his music to Lou Salomé's "Lebensgebet", in which he, at that time, believed to recognize his own philosophy. On September 16, 1882, he wrote to Lou from Leipzig (22):

"Inzwischen hat der Prof. Riedel hier, der Präsident des deutschen Musik-Vereins, für meine ‚heroische Musik‘ (ich meine Ihr ‚Lebens-Gebet‘) Feuer gefangen – er will es durchaus haben, und es ist nicht unmöglich, daß er es für seinen herrlichen Chor (einen der ersten Deutschlands, ‚der Riedelsche Verein‘ genannt) zurecht macht. Das wäre so ein kleines Weglein, auf dem wir beide zusammen zur Nachwelt gelangten – andere Wege vorbehalten."(In the meantime, here, Professor Riedel, President of the Deutsche Musik-Verein (German Music Association) has caught fire from my 'heroic music' (I am referring to your 'Lebens-Gebet')--he really wants to have it, and it is not impossible that he wants to arrange it for a wonderful choir (one of the first of Germany that will be called the "Riedelsche verein"). That would be a small way in which both of us will be preserved for posterity together--other ways notwithstanding.)(23)(24)

Lebensgebet by Lou Salomé – Nietzsche (Version for Piano and Alto voice, first version)

After the Lou episode had come to an end accompanied by painful misunderstandings, he sent his Hymnus Peter Gast in 1884, with the words, "...Diesmal kommt ‚Musik‘ zu Ihnen. Ich möchte gern ein Lied gemacht haben, welches auch öffentlich vorgetragen werden könnte, – ‚um die Menschen zu meiner Philosophie zu verführen‘." (This time, 'music' will reach you. I want to have a song made that could also be performed in public in order to seduce people to my philsophy.) (25)

And in 1887, he wrote to Gast from Nice, (26), after the Hymnus had been printed by Fritzsch, "Die Partitur hat mir übrigens großes Vergnügen gemacht ... Im Grunde ist es die ‚eleganteste‘ Partitur, die ich bis jetzt gesehen habe; und daß Fritzsch wirklich die Stimmen dazu hat herstellen lassen ..., freut mich: es verrät seinen Glauben an die Aufführbarkeit des Hymnus. Oh alter lieber Freund, was haben Sie sich damit um mich ‚verdient gemacht‘! Diese kleine Zugehörigkeit zur Musik und beinahe zu den Musikern, für welche dieser Hymnus Zeugnis ablegt, ist in Hinsicht auf ein einstmaliges Verständnis jenes psychologischen Problems, das ich bin, ein unschätzbarer Punkt... Auch hat der Hymnus etwas von Leidenschaft und Ernst an sich und präzisiert wenigstens einen Hauptaffekt unter den Affekten, aus denen meine Philosophie gewachsen ist. Zuallerletzt: er ist etwas für Deutsche, ein Brückchen, auf dem vielleicht sogar diese schwerfällige Rasse dazu gelangen kann, sich für eine ihrer seltsamsten Mißgeburten zu interessieren.– " (I was very delighted with the score...basically, it is the most 'elegant' score that I have seen, so far, and the fact that Fritz had actually printed the voices to it...delights me: it reveals his belief that the hymn can be performed. Oh, dear old friend, how you have earned my gratitude for it! My now belonging, to a small extent, to music and almost to musicians of which this hymn bears witness is, with respect to a former understanding of the psychological problem that I am, an invaluable point. The hymn also shows a passion and seriousness in itself and at least specifies one main aspect among the affects out of which my new philosophy has grown. Finally: it is something for Germans, a little bridge across which perhaps even this stolid race can arrive at taking an interest in one of its most peculiar freaks.)

He also believed to have rendered with his hymn an example of the "southern sensuality" of a furute "Zarathustra" music that he had demanded, the "lightness" and melodiousness of which he emphasised and particularly found in the compositions of his friend Peter Gast. Very enlightening with respect to the effect of the hymn is a report of the latter to Nietzsche (1887)(27), who played it to two Italiens without familiarizing them with the text; after all, in it, Nietzsche meant to have expressed a "gegenromantische, überchristliche, mittelmeerisch ‚bösere‘ Musik" (counter-romantic, post-Christian, mediterranean, more 'malicious' music). One of the Italians exclaimed: "Magnifico! ... Questa è la vera musica ecclesiastica!" (Magnificent! ... This is true sacred music!" Gast "verbat sich jedoch dieses ‚ecclesiastica‘ und übersetzte ihnen den Text; da meinte der eine, das hätte er allerdings nicht gedacht – ihm hätte der Calvarienberg mit seinen sieben Leidensstationen vorgeschwebt!!" (Gast objected to this 'ecclesiastica' and translated the text for them; to this, the other Italian mean that he would not have thought of that--and that he had imagined Mount Calvary with its seven station of Christ's sufferings!!) –

On December 22, 1887, Nietzsche dared to write the following to Hans von Bülow, by referring to the latter's harsh criticism of his Manfred-Mediation (28):

"Verehrtester Herr, es gab eine Zeit, wo Sie über ein Stück Musik von mir das allerberechtigste Todesurteil gefällt haben, das in rebus musicis et musicantibus möglich ist. Und nun wage ich es trotz alledem, Ihnen noch einmal etwas zu übersenden – einen Hymnus auf das Leben, von dem ich um so mehr wünsche, daß er leben bleibt. Er soll einmal, in irgendwelcher nahen oder fernen Zukunft, zu meinem Gedächtnisse gesungen werden, zum Gedächtnisse eines Philosophen, der keine Gegenwart gehabt hat und eigentlich nicht einmal hat haben wollen. Verdient er das?...

Zu alledem wäre es möglich, daß ich in den letzten zehn Jahren auch als Musiker etwas gelernt hätte.

Ihnen, verehrtester Herr, in alter unveränderlicher Gesinnung zugetan Dr. Fr. Nietzsche" (Most esteemed Sir, there was a time at which you rendered the most justified verdict with respect to a piece of music of mine, which is possible in rebus musicis et musicantibus. And now, in spite of this, I dare to send you something, once more--a hymn to live of which I wish all the more that it will stay alive. It should, in some near or distant future, be sung in my memory, in memory of a philosopher who had no present and and actually did not want to have one. Does he deserve this?.. Moreover, it would be possible that I have learned something as a musician during the last ten years. In unchanged devotion to you, esteemed Sir, Dr. Fr. Nietzsche.)

And to Georg Brandes, who acquainted Scandianvians with Nietzsche's philosophy in his university lectures during that time he wrote from Turin (29) on May 4, 1888:

"Der ‚Hymnus auf das Leben‘ wird dieser Tage seine Reise nach Kopenhagen antreten. Wir Philosophen sind für nichts dankbarer, als wenn man uns mit den Künstlern verwechselt. Man versichert mich übrigens von seiten der ersten Sachverständigen, daß der Hymnus durchaus aufführbar, singbar, und in Hinsicht auf Wirkung sicher sei (– rein im Satz: dies Lob hat mir am meisten Freude gemacht). Der vortreffliche Hofkapellmeister Mottl von Karlsruhe (Sie wissen, der Dirigent der Bayreuther Festaufführungen) hat mir eine Aufführung in Aussicht gestellt.– " (The hymn will commence its journey to Copenhagen one of these days. For nothing are we philosophers more grateful than when we are mistaken for artists. By the way, experts assure me that this hymn can actually be performed and that it is singable and certain to have an effect (--quite simply put: I was most delighted with this praise). The capable Court Kapellmeister Mottl of Karlsruhe (you know, the conductor of the Bayreuth Festival performances) has given me some hope that he will perform it...)

Nietzsche's following last letter to von Bülow(30) also expresses his wish that the latter should support the music of P. Gast--and this Octber 10, 1888 letter from Turin is really already very peculiar:

"Verehrter Herr! Sie haben auf meinen Brief nicht geantwortet. Sie sollen ein für allemal vor mir Ruhe haben, das verspreche ich Ihnen. Ich denke, Sie haben einen Begriff davon, daß der erste Geist des Zeitalters Ihnen einen Wunsch ausgedrückt hatte. Friedrich Nietzsche" (Esteemed Sir! You did not reply to my last letter. You shall be rid of me for once and for all, I promise you that. I think that you might have an idea that the first mind of this era had requested something from you. Friedrich Nietzsche.)

Several other things could be mentioned:

– For example, Nietzsche's relationship to his "maestro" Peter Gast (Heinrich Köselitz), who had been his student once and who was an unsuccessful composer, himself, whose music Nietzsche--probably not quite unselfishly--praised, since Gast was indispensable to him as his aide in preparing his manuscripts for print. However, it should also be noted that Nietzsche really tried to help his friend in order to make his music known and to have it performed. (31)

– His often very subjective and polemic invectives, particularly against the "süßlichen Sachsen" (sweet Saxon) Schumann(32), although he was also inspired by him--and as late as in 1865 he wrote to his sister that he considered the latter's "Faustmusik" as "eine seiner liebsten Sachen" (one of his favorite pieces)..(33)

– Or the very peculiar change of Nietzsche's musical taste at the end of his bright days, when even operettas moved him to tears...--here, from the middle of 1888 on the latest, the onset of the influence of his illness on Nietzsche's perception of reality would have to be discussed, which found its expression in his increasingly euphoric remarks. And yet, even as late as on December 27, 1888, only a few days before his "passing of the rubico" he was able to write very clearly to Carl Fuchs (34), "... Das, was ich über Bizet sage, dürfen sie nicht ernst nehmen; so wie ich bin, kommt Bizet tausendmal für mich nicht in Betracht. Aber als ironische Antithese gegen Wagner wirkt es sehr stark; ... Den Tristan umgehn Sie ja nicht: er ist das kapitale Werk und von einer Faszination, die nicht nur in der Musik, sondern in allen Künsten ohnegleichen ist." (What I am saying about Bizet, you must not take seriously, since, as I am, I can not consider Bizet seriously, a thousand times. However, as an ironic antithesis against Wagner, it is quite effective, --- You cannot escape Tristan: it is the capital work and of a fascination that neither finds its equal in music and nor in other art forms.)

In closing, I want to present to you this often-quoted--however, not quite seriously intended--comparison of Bizet and Wagner for your reading pleasure, since in his Der Fall Wagner Nietzsche combined, in his inimitable way, music criticism and interpretation, philosopical statement and critical judgments with inspiring polemic. As conclusion of this presentation, I limit myself to presenting to you a brief excerpt from its post script (35):

.Die Musik als Circe... Sein [Wagners] letztes Werk ist hierin sein größtes Meisterstück. Der Parsifal wird in der Kunst der Verführung ewig seinen Rang behalten, als der Geniestreich der Verführung... Ich bewundere dies Werk, ich möchte es selbst gemacht haben; in Ermangelung davon verstehe ich es... Wagner war nie besser inspiriert als am Ende. Das Raffinement im Bündnis von Schönheit und Krankheit geht hier so weit, daß es über Wagners frühere Kunst gleichsam Schatten legt – sie erscheint zu hell, zu gesund. Versteht ihr das? Die Gesundheit, die Helligkeit als Schatten wirkend? als Einwand beinahe?... So weit sind wir schon reine Toren... Niemals gab es einen größeren Meister in dumpfen, hieratischen Wohlgerüchen – nie lebte ein gleicher Kenner alles kleinen Unendlichen, alles Zitternden und Überschwänglichen, aller Feminismen aus dem Idiotikon des Glücks! – Trinkt nur, meine Freunde, die Philtren dieser Kunst! Ihr findet nirgends eine angenehmere Art, euren Geist zu entnerven, eure Männlichkeit unter einem Rosengebüsche zu vergessen... Ah dieser alte Zauberer! Dieser Klingsor aller Klingsore! Wie er uns damit den Krieg macht! uns, den freien Geistern! Wie er jeder Feigheit der modernen Seele mit Zaubermädchen-Tönen zu willen redet! – Es gab nie einen solchen Todhaß auf die Erkenntnis! – Man muß Zyniker sein, um hier nicht verführt zu werden, man muß beißen können, um hier nicht anzubeten. Wohlan, alter Verführer! Der Zyniker warnt dich – cave canem...( Music as Circe... In this, his last work is a masterpiece. Parsifal will always keep its rank in the art of seduction, as a stroke of genius of seduction... I admire this work, I wish that I had written it, myself; short of this, I understand it... Wagner was never more inspired than in the end. The refinement in the alliance of beauty and disease goes so far here that it virtually casts a shadow over Wagner's earlier art--it appears too bright, too healthy. Do you understand that? Health and brightness as shadows? almost as an inference?... So far, we are already pure fools... There has never been a grreater master of the numb, hieratic frangrances--never has there lived an equal connoisseur of the small infinities, of all that trembles and of all effusiveness, of all feminisms of the "idioticon of happiness"!--Drink, my friends, from the goblets of this art! You will never find a more pleasant way to un-nerve your minds, to forget your manliness under a rose-bush...Oh, this old magician! This Klingsor of all Klingsors! How he, with it, declares war on us! on us, the free spirits! How he aims to please every cowardice of the modern soul with his magic-girl-tunes!--There was never a more deadly hatred of realization!--One has to be a cynic in order not to be tempted here, one as to be able to bite in order not to adore, here! Well, then, old seducer! The cynic warns you--cave canem...)


(1) Notheworthy is this idea of Bertram: "Nietzsche [ist] ganz und gar der Enkel der lutherischen Reformation, welche ... dem deutschen Menschen die heitere Augenfreudigkeit seines Mittelalters geraubt hat und ihn dafür mit dem Heimweh des Ohres, dem unstillbaren und jenseitigen Durst nach Musik beschenkte." aus: Ernst Bertram, Nietzsche – Versuch einer Mythologie, Erstauflage 1918, 10th edition 1989, p. 51 (Bertram expresses here that Nietzsche is entirely a product of the Lutheran Reformatnion that took away from Germans the joy of visual perception they had during the Middle Ages and that has given them, in turn, a longing of the ear, an insatiable yearning for music.)
Thomas Mann who was befriended with Bertram said of this book, as late as 1948 (!): "Es wird wieder aufgelegt werden, noch oft, und immer bewundert werden. Es erträgt das Licht jedes Tages ..." (Mann expressed here that his book will be re-printed again and again and always be admired, and that it can face the light of the day.) Mann was not wrong in this--even to this day.

(2) cited from Bertram, Nietzsche, p. 113

(3) "Das Leben ohne Musik ist einfach ein Irrtum, eine Strapaze, ein Exil." (Life without music is simly an error, a pain, an exile) – to Gast in 1888 (cited from Bertram, Nietzsche, p. 130)

(4) Werner Ross, Der ängstliche Adler, Friedrich Nietzsches Leben, Deutsche Verlagsanstalt, Stuttgart 1980, p.404

(5) Schlechta, F. N. Werke IV, Briefe p. 603

(6) To Gustav Krug from Basle, on November 13, 1871 (Schlechta, F. N. Werke IV, Briefe p. 639):
... Inzwischen ist ein sonderbares Opus fertig geworden, gleichsam aus der Luft gefallen. Das erste Motiv war nur, etwas von meinen früheren Sachen vierhändig zuzurichten, so daß ich es mit meinem Kollegen Overbeck zu spielen vermöchte. Ich verfiel auf jene "Silvesternacht": aber kaum hatte ich das Notenpapier gekauft, so verwandelte sich alles unter meinen Händen, und von dem ersten Takte an ist es etwas völlig Neues geworden. Der lange Titel dieses vierhändigen Satzes, dessen Ausführung 20 Minuten dauert, lautet: "Nachklang einer Silvesternacht, mit Prozessionslied, Bauerntanz und Mitternachtsglocke".–
Du weißt, wie erstaunt ich war, Dich noch bei frischer Komponierstimmung anzutreffen, und ich kam mir wer weiß wie verwelkt oder auch "weise" vor, daß ich darin mich seit 6 Jahren resigniert hatte. Und nun hinterdrein! Du siehst, was Dein Beispiel an mir gefruchtet hat! Im übrigen bin ich jetzt, wo ich das Werk hinter mir habe, fast auf dem früheren Punkte und denke nicht daran weiter zu komponieren: weshalb ich sagte, diese Komposition sei aus der Luft gefallen. Jedenfalls klingt sie gut: sie hat etwas Populäres, gerät nie ins Tragische, wenn auch ins Ernste und Wehmütige. Mitunter ist sie triumphierend, ja auch schmerzlich ausgelassen, kurz – wenn Du Dich unserer Ferienstimmungen erinnern willst, der Spaziergänge über den Knabenberg, bis auf "das Ding an sich", so wirst Du eine Exemplifikation dieser "dionysischen Manifestation" haben. Das Ganze ist auf wenig Themen aufgebaut, in der Tonfarbe freilich orchsestral, ja förmlich gierig nach Orchestration, aber Du weißt – hier kann ich nicht mehr mit. Die Geburtstage sind der 1te bis 7te November: es ist ein so reinliches Manuskript, daß ich mit Overbeck es immer aus der ersten Niederschrift bis jetzt gespielt habe. Jetzt schreibe ich es nochmal ab, um meiner ausgezeichneten und verehrten Freundin, Frau Cosima W., in Geburtstagsgeschenk machen zu können. (In the meantime, a peculiar opus has been completed, virtually fallen from the sky. My first intention was only to arrange something of my earlier works for four hands so that I could play it with my colleague Overbeck. I had that "Sylvesternacht" in my mind, however, hardly had I bought the notepaper that everything changed under my hands, and from the first bar on, it became something entirely new. The long title of this movement for four hands, the execution of which takes 20 minutes, is "Nachklang einer Silvesternacht, mit Prozesionslied, Bauerntanz und Mitternachtsglocke" (Aftermath of a Yew Year's Night, with an Introductory March, Village Dance and Midnight Bells.--You know how astonished I was to still find you in a good mood for composing, and I considered myself as burnt-out or even "wise" that I have resigned with respect to it for six years. And now look at that! You see, what good your example did me! Otherwise, after I have composed this work, I have again arrived at the same point as before and do not think of composing any further: this is why I said that this composition must have fallen from the sky. In any event, it sounds good: it has something popular, never comes close to the tragic, however, it is somewhat serious and melancholy. At certain points it is also triumphant, even painfully exuberant, in short--if you can recall our holiday moods, ourKnabenberg walks, up to the "thing per se", then you will have an exemplification of this "dionysian manifestation". The entire piece is based on only a few themes, in its tonal color, of course, orchestral, even yearning for orchestration, but as you know--here I have to decline. The birthdays as the from November 1st to November 7th; it is such a clean manuscript that, up to now, I have always played it with Overbeck from this first autograph. Now I am copying it one more time in order to be able to give it as a birthday present to my excellent and revered friend, Mme. Cosima W.)

(7) Friedrich Nietzsches Briefwechsel mit E. Rohde, Hg. v. E. Förster-Nietzsche und Fr. Schöll, Insel-Verlag Leipzig 1902, p. 277, ca. 20.Dezember 1871

(8) C. P. Janz, Nietzsche, C. Hanser Verlag, München Wien 1978, Vol. I, p. 427 f.

(9) Briefwechsel mit Rohde, p. 464

(10) Janz I, p. 585 f.

(11) What opinion Nietzsche had ultimately formed of Brahms is expressed in his Fall Wanger (Zweite Nachschrift, Nietzsche, Werke II, Hg. Frenzel, p. 316 f.): "Was liegt noch an Johannes Brahms!... Sein Glück war ein deutsches Mißverständnis: man nahm ihn als Antagonisten Wagners – man brauchte einen Antagonisten! – Das macht keine notwendige Musik, das macht vor allem zu viel Musik! – Wenn man nicht reich ist, soll man stolz genug sein zur Armut!... Die Sympathie, die Brahms unleugbar hier und da einflößt, ganz abgesehen von jenem Partei-Interesse, Partei-Mißverständnisse, war mir lange ein Rätsel: bis ich endlich, durch einen Zufall beinahe, dahinterkam, daß er auf einen bestimmten Typus von Menschen wirkt. Er hat die Melancholie des Unvermögens; er schafft nicht aus der Fülle, er durstet nach der Fülle. Rechnet man ab, was er nachmacht, was er großen alten oder exotisch-modernen Stilformen entlehnt – er ist Meister in der Kopie –, so bleibt als sein Eigenstes die Sehnsucht... Das erraten die Sehnsüchtigen, die Unbefriedigten aller Art. Er ist zu wenig Person, zu wenig Mittelpunkt... Das verstehen die »Unpersönlichen«, die Peripherischen, – sie lieben ihn dafür. Insonderheit ist er der Musiker einer Art unbefriedigter Frauen. Fünfzig Schritt weiter: und man hat die Wagnerianerin – ganz wie man fünfzig Schritt über Brahms hinaus Wagner findet –, die Wagnerianerin, einen ausgeprägteren, interessanteren, vor allem anmutigeren Typus. Brahms ist rührend, solange er heimlich schwärmt oder über sich trauert – darin ist er »modern« –: er wird kalt, er geht uns nichts mehr an, sobald er die Klassiker beerbt..." (Why still care for Johannes Brahms! ... His fortune was a German misunderstanding: one took him for an antagonist of Wagner--one was in need of an antagonist!--This does not create necessary music, this creates, above all, too much music!--When one is not rich, one should be proud enough to be poor!...The sympathy that Brahms undoubtedly evokes here and there, quite apart from that party interest, partisan misunderstanding, has long remained a puzzle to me until I finally, almost by coincidence, found out that he has an effect on a certain kind of people. He has the melancholy of iniquity, he does not create from fullness, he is yearning for fullness. If one disregards what he imitates, what he borrows from great old or exotically modern styles--he is a master of copying--, then his every own that remains is longing...Those of all kind of longing or unsatisfied people recognize this. He is too little of an individual, too little of a center...The "impersonal" and "peripheral" people understand that,--they love him for it. In particular, he is the musician of a kind of unsatisfied women. Fifty steps further, and one arrives at the Wagnerian lady fans, a more defined, a ore interesting, above all, a more graceful type. Brahms is moving as long as he is yearning and longing or mourning secretly by himself--then he is "modern"--he becomes cold, he does not affect us any more, as soon as he is borrowing from the classical masters.)
As much as this "psychology" of Brahms appears understandable to me, it does not entirely do justice to him if one thinks, for example, of his violin concerto.

(12) In the winter of 1884/188, he wrote from Nice to the musician Carl Fuchs (Schlechta, FN Werke IV, p. 817):
"Das letzte, was ich mir gründlich angeeignet habe, ist Bizets Carmen – und nicht ohne viel, zum Teil ganz unerlaubte Hintergedanken über alle deutsche Musik (über welche ich beinahe so urteile wie über alle deutsche Philosophie); außerdem die Musik eines unentdeckten Genies, welches den Süden liebt, wie ich ihn liebe, und zur Naivität des Südens das Bedürfnis und die Gabe der Melodie hat. Der Verfall des melodischen Sinns, den ich bei jeder Berührung mit deutschen Musikern zu riechen glaube, die immer größere Aufmerksamkeit auf die einzelne Gebärde des Affekts ..., ebenfalls die immer größere Fertigkeit im Vortrage des einzelnen, in den rhetorischen Kunstmitteln der Musik, in der Schauspieler-Kunst, den Moment so überzeugend wie möglich zu gestalten: das, scheint mir, verträgt sich nicht nur miteinander, es bedingt sich beinahe gegenseitig. Schlimm genug! muß man eben alles Gute in dieser Welt etwas zu teuer kaufen! Das Wagnersche Wort ‚unendliche Melodie‘ drückt die Gefahr, den Verderb des Instinkts und den guten Glauben, das gute Gewissen dabei allerliebst aus. Die rhythmische Zweideutigkeit, so daß man nicht mehr weiß und wissen soll, ob etwas Schwanz oder Kopf ist, ist ohne allen Zweifel ein Kunstmittel, mit dem wunderbare Wirkungen erreicht werden können: der ‚Tristan‘ ist reich daran –, als Symptom einer ganzen Kunst ist und bleibt sie trotzdem das Zeichen der Auflösung. Der Teil wird Herr über das Ganze, die Phrase über die Melodie, der Augenblick über die Zeit (auch das tempo), das Pathos über das Ethos (Charakter, Stil, oder wie es heißen soll –) schließlich auch der esprit über den ‚Sinn‘. Verzeihung! was ich wahrzunehmen glaube, ist eine Veränderung der Perspektive: man sieht das Einzelne viel zu scharf, man sieht das Ganze viel zu stumpf – und man hat den Willen zu dieser Optik in der Musik, vor allem man hat das Talent dazu! Das aber ist decadence, ein Wort, das, wie sich unter uns von selbst versteht, nicht verwerfen, sondern nur bezeichnen soll." (The last thing that I have thoroughly made my own is Carmen--and that not without many, in part quite illicit thoughts on all German musica (of which I hold almost the same opinion as on all German philosophy), besides that about the music of an undiscovered genius who loves the south as much as I do and who has, in addition to the naivete of the south, the yearning and the gift for melody. The decline of the melodic sense that I believe to smell in every contact with German musicians, the ever increasing attention to the single gesture of affect..., also the ever increasing skill in the performances of individuals, in the rhetoric artistic means of music, in the acting capability of being able to present the moment as convincingly as possible, that, as it appears to me, does not only go well together, it even works as each other's cause. Bad enough! that one has to buy everything good in the world at a too high price! The Wagnerian word 'infinite melody' most delicately expresses the danger, the decline of instinct and the good faith and good conscience with it. The rhythmic ambiguity, so that one does not know any more or is not supposed to know anymore as to whether something is head or tail, is, without doubt, an artistic means by which wonderful effects can be reached: 'Tristan' is full of it--as symptom of an entire art it is and remains, however, a sign of dissolution. The part governs the whole, the phrase the melody, the moment all of time (also the tempo, and pathos governs ethos (character, style, or whatever term is supposed to be used here--), finally also esprit over 'meaning'. Pardon! what I believe to be perceiving is a change of perspective: one sees the detail much too sharply, one sees the whole much to dull--and one has the will for this optic in music, above all, one has the talent for it! That, however, is decadence, a word that, as amongst ourselves, is naturally understood, is not supposed to condemn but only to define.)

(13) Schlechta, FN Werke IV, p. 904 f.; on August 26, 1888 from Sils. With C. Fuchs, Nietzsche particularly discussed in his letters the difference between ancient and modern rhythmic, from which even today some conclusions can be drawn.

(14) Fr. Nietzsche, Die Fröhliche Wissenschaft Nr. 279, Kröner Verlag Stuttgart, 6. Aufl. 1976, p. 183
Sternen-Freundschaft. – Wir waren Freunde und sind uns fremd geworden. Aber das ist recht so, und wir wollen's uns nicht verhehlen und verdunkeln, als ob wir uns dessen zu schämen hätten. Wir sind zwei Schiffe, deren jedes sein Ziel und seine Bahn hat; wir können uns wohl kreuzen und ein Fest miteinander feiern, wie wir es getan haben, – und dann lagen die braven Schiffe so ruhig in einem Hafen und in einer Sonne, daß es scheinen mochte, sie seien schon am Ziele und hätten ein Ziel gehabt. Aber dann trieb uns die allmächtige Gewalt unserer Aufgabe wieder auseinander, in verschiedene Meere und Sonnenstriche, und vielleicht sehen wir uns nie wieder – vielleicht auch sehen wir uns wohl, aber erkennen uns nicht wieder: die verschiedenen Meere und Sonnen haben uns verändert! Daß wir uns fremd werden müssen, ist das Gesetz über uns: eben dadurch sollen wir uns auch ehrwürdiger werden! Eben dadurch soll der Gedanke an unsere ehemalige Freundschaft heiliger werden! Es gibt wahrscheinlich eine ungeheure unsichtbare Kurve und Sternenbahn, in der unsere so verschiedenen Straßen und Ziele als kleine Wegstrecken einbegriffen sein mögen – erheben wir uns zu diesem Gedanken! Aber unser Leben ist zu kurz und unsre Sehkraft zu gering, als daß wir mehr als Freunde im Sinne jener erhabenen Möglichkeit sein könnten. – Und so wollen wir an unsre Sternen-Freundschaft glauben, selbst wenn wir einander Erden-Feinde sein müßten. (We were friends and have become strangers. However, that is good as it is, and we do not want to deny it or hide it as if we had to be ashamed of it. We are two ships, each of which has its own destination and its own course, we can certainly cross and celebrate a festival together, as we have done it--and then the two good ships lay so calmly in the sun in one port that it appeared as if they had already reached their destinations and as if they have had one and the same destination. However, the all-powerful force of our callings drove us apart again, towards different oceans and places in the sun, and perhaps we shall never cross again--perhaps we shall see each other again, but we shall not recognize each other: the different oceans and places under the sun have changed us! That we have to become strangers, that was a law that went beyond us and governed both of us: for that very reason, we should become more precious to each other! For that very reason, the thought of our former friendship should become more sacred! Perhaps there exists an incredible invisible curve and path among the stars of which our different paths and destinations might be a small part--let us lift ourselves up to this thought! However, our lives are too short and our vision is too blurred in order for us to be more than friends in that sublime framework of possibilities.--And thus we should believe in our star friendship, even if we would have to be earthly enemies.)

(15) Jenseits von Gut und Böse Nr. 240, Fr. Nietzsche, Werke II, Hg. Ivo Frenzel, Hanser Verlag München, p. 128
Ich hörte, wieder einmal zum ersten Male – Richard Wagners Ouvertüre zu den Meistersingern: das ist eine prachtvolle, überladne, schwere und späte Kunst, welche den Stolz hat, zu ihrem Verständnisse zwei Jahrhunderte Musik als noch lebendig vorauszusetzen – es ehrt die Deutschen, daß sich ein solcher Stolz nicht verrechnete! Was für Säfte und Kräfte, was für Jahreszeiten und Himmelsstriche sind hier nicht gemischt! Das mutet uns bald altertümlich, bald fremd, herb und überjung an, das ist ebenso willkürlich als pomphaft-herkömmlich, das ist nicht selten schelmisch, noch öfter derb und grob –das hat Feuer und Mut und zugleich die schlaffe falbe Haut von Früchten, welche zu spät reif werden. Das strömt breit und voll: und plötzlich ein Augenblick unerklärlichen Zögerns, gleichsam eine Lücke, die zwischen Ursache und Wirkung aufspringt, ein Druck, der uns träumen macht, beinahe ein Alpdruck –, aber schon breitet und weitet sich wieder der alte Strom von Behagen aus, von vielfältigstem Behagen, von altem und neuem Glück, sehr eingerechnet das Glück des Künstlers an sich selber, dessen er nicht Hehl haben will, sein erstauntes glückliches Mitwissen um die Meisterschaft seiner hier verwendeten Mittel, neuer neuerworbener unausgeprobter Kunstmittel, wie er uns zu verraten scheint. Alles in allem keine Schönheit, kein Süden, nichts von südlicher feiner Helligkeit des Himmels, nichts von Grazie, kein Tanz, kaum ein Wille zur Logik; eine gewisse Plumpheit sogar, die noch unterstrichen wird, wie als ob der Künstler uns sagen wollte: »sie gehört zu meiner Absicht«; eine schwerfällige Gewandung, etwas Willkürlich-Barbarisches und Feierliches, ein Geflirr von gelehrten und ehrwürdigen Kostbarkeiten und Spitzen: etwas Deutsches, im besten und schlimmsten Sinn des Wortes, etwas auf deutsche Art Vielfaches, Unförmliches und Unausschöpfliches; eine gewisse deutsche Mächtigkeit und Überfülle der Seele, welche keine Furcht hat, sich unter die Raffinements des Verfalls zu verstecken – die sich dort vielleicht erst am wohlsten fühlt; ein rechtes echtes Wahrzeichen der deutschen Seele, die zugleich jung und veraltet, übermürbe und überreich noch an Zukunft ist. Diese Art Musik drückt am besten aus, was ich von den Deutschen halte: sie sind von vorgestern und von übermorgen – sie haben noch kein Heute. (I heard, again for the first time, Richard Wagner's overture to the Meistersinger: that is a wonderful, rich, heavy and late art that has the pride, in order to be understood, to presuppose that two centuries of music are still alive--it honors the Germans that such a pride did not go amiss! What juices and strengths, what seasons and heavenly abodes are not blended together here! This appears part ancient, part strange, tart and overly young, it is as deliberate as pompously-traditional, not seldom is it also mischievous, more often, however, rough and tough--it has fire and courage and, at the same time, the pale and weak skin of fruits that ripen too late. It streams broadly and fully and, all of a sudden, a moment of hesitation, almost like a gap, that arises between cause and effect, a pressure that makes us dream, almost a nightmare--, immediately, however, the old stream of good feelings spreads out again, of good feelings of all kind, of old and new happiness, very much calculated into this the artist's happiness with himself, which he does not hide, his amazed, happy knowledge and awareness of the mastery of the artistic means he used here, of the new and newly acquired, still untried artistic means, as he appears to convey them to us. All in all, no beauty, no southern charm, nothing of fine, southern brightness of the skies, nothing of grace, no dance, hardly and will for logic, and even a certain kind of awkwardness that is even underlined, as if the artist wanted to say to us, "it is part of my intention", an awkward disguise, somewhat deliberately-barbarous and solemn, a flurry of learned and venerable treasures and laces: something German, in the best and worst sense of the word, something that has variety in a German way, something that is uncomely and inexhaustible, a certain German power and wealth of soul that has no fear of hiding under the refinements of decline--that, perhaps, feels best there, a true symbol of the German soul that, young and old at the same time, over-exhausted and that, on the other hand, is still a piece of the future. This music best expresses what I think of the Germans: the are from the day before yesterday and from the day after tomorrow--they do not have a today, yet.)

(16) Schlechta, FN Werke IV, p. 661

(17) Also in his draft of a reply to von Bülow of October 1872, Nietzsche shows remorse:
"Dabei ist mir nun leider klar, daß das Ganze samt dieser Mischung von Pathos und Bosheit, einer wirklichen Stimmung absolut entsprach und daß ich an der Niederschrift ein Vergnügen empfand, wie bei nichts Früherem. Es steht demnach recht traurig um meine Musik und noch mehr um meine Stimmungen. Wie bezeichnet man einen Zustand, in dem Lust, Verachtung, Übermut, Erhabenheit durcheinandergeraten sind? – Hier und da verfalle ich in dies gefährliche mondüschtige Gebiet.– ... Von meiner Musik weiß ich nur eins, daß ich damit Herr über eine Stimmung werde, die, ungestillt, vielleicht schädlicher ist. ... Und gerade diese verzweifelte Kontrapunktik muß mein Gefühl in dem Grade verwirrt haben, daß ich absolut urteilslos geworden war. ... – ein höchst bedauerlicher Zustand, aus dem Sie mich jetzt gerettet haben. Haben Sie Dank!" (Schlechta, FN Werke IV, p. 667 f.) (In this, I now unfortunately realize that the entire thing including its blend of pathos and maliciousness was absolutely reflecting a real mood and that I felt a kind of pleasure in writing it down that I never felt, before. Therefore, my music is in a sorry state, and my moods are in an even sorrier state. How does one describe a state in which lust,contempt, high spirits, and sublimity are blended?--Here and there, I am prone to venture into this dangerous, somnambulistic state-- ... Of my music I only know one thing, that I am able to master my moods with it that, if they were not controlled in this way, it might perhaps be more dangerous. ... And precisely these desperate efforts in counterpoint must have confused my feelings to such a degree that I have become absolutely un-capable of rational judgment with respect to them... --a highly regrettable state of affairs, from which you have now saved me. Receive my gratitude for this!)

(18) Janz I, p. 5080

(19) Janz I, p. 598 ff.

(20) Briefwechsel mit Rohde, p. 407 f.

(21) Ross, p. 219

(22) Schlechta, FN Werke IV, p 781

(23) Friedrich Nietzsche – Paul Rée – Lou von Salomé, Die Dokumente ihrer Begegnung, Hg. E. Pfeiffer, Insel Verlag, Frankfurt/M. 1970, p. 231
>From August 7 to 26, 1882, Nietzsche was at Tautenburg with Lou where they, as far as Nietzsche's health allowed it, met almost daily and intensively discussed philosophical topics. Nietzsche received the poem from Lou as a farewell present; however, it had been written earlier, at her arrival in Zurich, after Lou had left her Russian homeland. As Nietzsche wrote to Lou in his letter of September 1st, he had set immediately set the poem to music at Naumburg, and of it only the first two verses, whereby he slightly changed the metre in order to adapt it to his Hymnus an die Freundschaft. Below you will find the text of the Gebet an das Leben by Lou Salomé, that Nietzsche set to music by using his Hymnus (to the left, the original version of Lou, to the right Nietzsche's slightly altered text):

Gewiß, so liebt ein Freund den Freund,
Wie ich Dich liebe, Rätselleben –
Ob ich in Dir gejauchzt, geweint,
Ob Du mir Glück, ob Schmerz gegeben.

Ich liebe Dich samt Deinem Harme;
Und wenn Du mich vernichten mußt,
Entreiße ich mich Deinem Arme,
Wie Freund reißt sich von Freundesbrust.

Mit ganzer Kraft umfaß ich Dich!
Laß Deine Flammen mich entzünden,
Laß noch in Glut des Kampfes mich
Dein Rätsel tiefer nur ergründen.

Jahrtausende zu sein! zu denken!
Schließ mich in beide Arme ein:
Hast Du kein Glück mehr mir zu schenken –
Wohlan – noch hast Du Deine Pein.

Gewiß, so liebt ein Freund den Freund,
Wie ich Dich liebe, rätselvolles Leben!
Ob ich in Dir gejauchzt, geweint,
Ob Du mir Leid, ob du mir Lust gegeben.

Ich liebe Dich mit Deinem Glück und Harme;
Und wenn Du mich vernichten mußt,
Entreiße ich schmerzvoll mich Deinem Arme,
Gleich wie der Freund der Freundesbrust.

In 1887, Peter Gast wrote a version of it for choir and orchestra for Nietzsche, in which all verses were set to music; this version, he later sent to von Bülow, without mentioning the fact that Gast had written this arrangement..

(24) Friedrich Nietzsche – Paul Rée – Lou von Salomé, Die Dokumente ihrer Begegnung, p. 233: "In der That, der Riedelsche Verein wird das ‚Lebensgebet‘ zur Aufführung bringen; Prof. Riedel ist äußerst davon eingenommen und arbeitete es eben für 4 stimmigen Chor um ... Über die Musik selbst schrieb Köselitz zuletzt noch: ‚ganz Manfred, groß, machtvoll, aber unheimlich‘. (das heißt: er mag sie nicht.)" (Indeed, the 'Riedelsche Verein' will perform the 'Lebensgebet'; Professor Riedel is extremely fond of it and just arranged it for all four choir voices ... with respect to the music itself, Köselitz wrote in the end, 'entirely like 'Manfred', great, powerful, but sinister' (which means he does not like it).)

(25) quoted from Bertram, Nietzsche, p. 114

(26) Schlechta, FN Werke IV, p. 858

(27) zitiert nach Bertram, Nietzsche, p. 128

(28) Schlechta, FN Werke IV, p. 857

(29) Schlechta, FN Werke IV, p. 883

(30) Schlechta, FN Werke IV, p. 912

(31) In October 1882 from Leipzig to Overbeck (Schlechta, F. N. Werke IV, Briefe p. 785 f.):
"Was Köselitz (oder vielmehr Herrn ‚Peter Gast‘) betrifft, so ist hier mein zweites Wunder dieses Jahres. Während Lou für den bisher fast verschwiegenen Teil meiner Philosophie vorbereitet ist wie kein anderer Mensch, ist Köselitz die tönende Rechtfertigung für meine ganze neue Praxis und Wiedergeburt – um einmal ganz egoistisch zu reden. Hier ist ein neuer Mozart – ich habe keine andere Empfindung mehr: Schönheit, Herzlichkeit, Heiterkeit, Fülle, Erfindungs-Überfluß und die Leichtigkeit der kotrapunktischen Meisterschaft – das fand ich noch nie so zusammen, ich mag bereits gar keine andere Musik mehr hören. Wie arm, künstlich und schauspielerisch klingt mir jetzt die ganze Wagnerei." (With respect to Köselitz (or rather, Herr Peter Gast), this is my second miracle of the year. While Lou is ready for that part of my philosphy that has not become public knowledge, yet, more than anyone else, Köselitz is the musical justification for my entire new practice and re-birth--to speak quite egotistically here for once: Here, there is a new Mozart--I have no other feelings, anymore: beauty, sincerity, serenity, richness, abundance of inventiveness and the lightness of the mastery of counterpoint--I never found this together to such a degree, I hardly want to listen to any other music, anymore. How poor, how artificially and contrived does the entire Wagner repertoire sound to me now.)

(32) "Was aber Robert Schumann angeht, der es schwer nahm und von Anfang an auch schwergenommen worden ist – es ist der letzte, der eine Schule gegründet hat-: gilt es heute unter uns nicht als ein Glück, als ein Aufatmen, als eine Befreiung, daß gerade diese Schumannsche Romantik überwunden ist? Schumann, in die »Sächsische Schweiz« seiner Seele flüchtend, halb Wertherisch, halb Jean-Paulisch geartet, gewiß nicht Beethovenisch! gewiß nicht Byronisch! – seine Manfred-Musik ist ein Mißgriff und Mißverständnis bis zum Unrechte –, Schumann mit seinem Geschmack, der im Grunde ein kleiner Geschmack war (nämlich ein gefährlicher, unter Deutschen doppelt gefährlicher Hang zur stillen Lyrik und Trunkenboldigkeit des Gefühls), beständig beiseite gehend, sich scheu verziehend und zurückziehend, ein edler Zärtling, der in lauter anonymem Glück und Weh schwelgte, eine Art Mädchen und noli me tangere von Anbeginn: dieser Schumann war bereits nur noch ein deutsches Ereignis in der Musik, kein europäisches mehr, wie Beethoven es war, wie, in noch umfänglicherem Maße, Mozart es gewesen ist – mit ihm drohte der deutschen Musik ihre größte Gefahr, die Stimme für die Seele Europas zu verlieren und zu einer bloßen Vaterländerei herabzusinken." [Jenseits von Gut und Böse Nr. 245, Fr. Nietzsche, Werke II, Hg. Ivo Frenzel, Hanser Verlag München, p. 134.] (With respect to Schumann, however, who took everything seriously and who was, from the beginning, also taken seriously--he was the last who had founded a 'school': is it, nowadays, not considered a great fortune, a sigh of relief, a liberation, that this very Schumann romanticism has been overcome? Schumann, fleeing into the 'Swiss Saxony' of his soul, half Werther-like, half like Jean Paul, certainly not like Beethoven! certainly not like Byron!--his 'Manfred' music is a mistake and a misunderstanding to the point of injustice--Schumann with his taste, basically a small-minded taste war (namely a dangerous, among Germans doubly dangerous inclination towards silent lyricism and drunkenness of feeling) always hiding away, retreating out of shyness, a noble tenderfoot who wallowed entirely in anonymous bliss and pain, a kind of girl and 'touch-me-not' from the beginning: this Schumann was only a German event in music, not a European event such as Beethoven was or, to an even higher degree, Mozart--in him, German music faced its greatest danger of losing the voice of the soul of Europe and to decline into a merely national music.)

(33) Schlechta, F. N. Werke IV, Briefe p. 547

(34) Schlechta, F. N. Werke IV, Briefe p. 939

(35) Nietzsche, Der Fall Wagner, Nachschrift, from: Werke in 2 Bd., Hg. Ivo Frenzel, II, 314

You are visitor no.Counter since July 10, 2000.
My thanks for this counter go to

Back to the top of the page